ACC's record books almost hard to believe
Posted February 19
Last weekend’s phenomenal ACC games, including Maryland-Duke and N.C. State-Syracuse, which both came down to the final seconds, have definitely laid the groundwork for conference tournament play. Looking back at the ACC’s rich and colorful history creates even more of an appetite for the games of March.
You can’t make this stuff up
With Duke and North Carolina finally getting together Thursday for the first of two meetings, it seems only fitting to point out that the all-time single-game scoring leader against UNC is, of course, a Duke guy. Dick Groat put up 48 against the Heels in 1952. Groat, by the way, was in Chapel Hill Saturday -- he’s the radio analyst for the Pittsburgh Panthers. Several other ACC scoring marks are intriguing in a way that’s beyond coincidence.
Don Hennon, who is a member of this year’s class of ACC Legends, still holds the Pitt single-game scoring record. Hennon poured in 45 in 1958 against future ACC opponent Duke. Bob Lewis holds the UNC single-game scoring record. Lewis’ best-ever point total in a Carolina uniform, 49, came in 1965 against, wait for it…future ACC opponent Florida State.
Danny Ferry holds the Duke and ACC single-game scoring record. Ferry scored an incredible 58 points, one more than the great David Thompson, against…(by now you could see this coming) future ACC opponent Miami! What are the odds?
Ferry, incidentally, was not just a scorer. He could rebound, defend and pass. Ferry’s assist to turnover ratio was 3.03, better than most point guards, and better than all about half a dozen players in ACC history.
Buzz Wilkinson holds the record for most points against UNC in an ACC game. He scored 45 back in 1954. Quickly, let me admit I never got to see Buzz play. But my sense is that he WAS primarily a scorer. Check this out: Buzzy still holds the ACC record for most shots taken in a single game. The guy put up 44 against Duke, making just 13. That’s right -- 44 shots, not points. Wilkinson shot the ball more than once a minute! Another top gun(ner) was Clemson’s Butch Zatazelo. He earns honorable mention alongside Wilkinson, after shooting 11-of-37 one night against Furman.
Now that’s hot
NASCAR analyst Brad Daugherty is in a class by himself for accurate shooting. Daugherty, whose 1986 Tar Heel team hit nearly 56 percent of its shots (and that’s an ACC record), once went 13-of-13 in a game. No one else in ACC history has ever done that.
Duke’s Alaa Abdelnaby sets the bar for most consecutive field goals in multiple games. Abdelnaby, who often came in off the bench, once made 20 straight field goals in the 1989 season. From my point of view, Abdelnaby also should get credit for the ACC’s most mis-pronounced name. Even some folks at Duke used to get it wrong. I know the pronunciation because I asked him: “I’m from New Jersey, Bob,” he told me. “It’s Abdelnaby. “Ab (like your abs) del (like deli)nab (like the crackers) eee.” Abdelnaby.
UNC’s Brendan Haywood holds the record for best shooting percentage over a season in ACC games, shooting a phenomenal 73 percent against conference rivals in 2000.
For free throws, UNC’s York Larese holds the record, going 21-of-21 in a single game, ironically against Duke in 1959. Honorable mention goes to 2014 ACC Legend Al Thornton, who once went 15-of-16 against Duke, and UNC’s Tyler Zeller, who hit 20-of-23 in a game a couple of years ago. Zeller’s accuracy stands in sharp contrast to the marksmanship, or lack of same, displayed by this year’s Carolina team.
As every NC State fan knows, no player shot free throws over multiple games like Scott Wood. His record is 66 straight free throws, one not likely to be broken any time soon.
How About Some Defense?
We mentioned DT’s 57 points earlier -- David Thompson was also a terrific defensive player. And one of the teams on which he played remains in the ACC record books for most steals. The 1974 Wolfpack forced a whopping 26 steals against Clemson. The visitors turned the ball over 38 times that day. I would love to know what the Tigers’ testy coach, Tates Locke, said after that game.
Most memorable quote
I vividly remember what Locke said after a 1974 ACC Tournament game when his team failed to pass the ball inside often enough to freshman 7-footer Wayne “Tree Rollins.” Question: “Why didn’t you get the ball to Rollins Coach,” Answer: “It was not by design, I can tell you that. They better throw it to him. Because the next guy who doesn’t will be shot, he will be shot. The sonofagun’s gonna be one of the top players in this league, they better get it to him!”
Rollins, another of the 2014 ACC Legends, played for three years without being allowed to dunk the ball. The dunk was re-instated for the 1976-77 season, Rollins’ senior season, and the “Tree” made up for lost time. He threw down eight dunks in one game -- still a Clemson record. The “Tree” averaged a double-double throughout his Clemson career and is one of the very few in ACC history with TWO triple doubles-for scoring, rebounds, and blocked shots. Ralph Sampson is the ACC’s all-time leader in blocked shots with 462, but Rollins has the highest average in blocks per game.
Rollins, by the way, was known as Tree because of his height and exceptionally long arms. Former Clemson SID, the late Bob Bradley, once told me Tree had a younger, smaller brother, who was called Branch.
One of Rollins’ fellow ACC Legends, Terry Holland, was known as a coach who preached defense. Holland’s teams led the ACC in defense eight times in 16 years. Sampson certainly helped with that during his four years, but Virginia was always hard to score on all through the 70’s and 80’s when Holland coached, much as the Cavaliers are tough to score on now under Tony Bennett.
Duke’s colorful Kenny Dennard still holds the record for most steals in one game, a whopping 11. Dennard’s 11 thefts took place against Maryland. On a different night against the Terrapins, Dennard is also remembered for the ACC’s most talked about box out. On the final play of the 1980 ACC Championship game, Dennard got underneath Maryland’s great rebounder Buck Williams and moved him about halfway to Winston-Salem with no foul being called.
UNC’s Dudley Bradley was one of the first to perfect that art of throwing down a dunk after making a steal. Bradley stole the ball from NC State’s Clyde Austin in a game in 1979, and dunked the ball with just a couple of seconds left to give the Tar Heels a one point win over the Wolfpack. Bradley also put together a steal and dunk against Magic Johnson and Michigan State that 1978-79 season, the year the Spartans won the National Championship. Johnson told reporters after a one point UNC win over MSU in Carmichael, that Bradley “checked me as well as anyone ever has.” Of course, Magic played quite a few more games after that.
The ACC’s all-time pickpocket is Maryland’s Johnny Rhodes, who averaged 3.7 steals a game over a season to Bradley’s 3.3. Rhodes also holds the ACC’s career mark, averaging nearly three steals for every game he played in. NC State’s Chris Corchiani gets a huge shout out for having the second-highest career steals average at 2.64. With all the other things Corchiani did on the court, that’s an amazing number.
Can anybody out here pass the ball?
Corchiani is also one of the ACC’s most prolific passers. In fact, no player can top Corchiani’s career average of 8.37 assists per game. Duke’s Bobby Hurley leads the ACC in total assists. Hurley was not only a great passer, but played in many more games than Corchiani, as his Duke teams competed in the National Championship Game three consecutive years.
We don’t have to look too far into the past for great passing numbers. UNC’s Kendall Marshall holds the ACC record for assist average in a single season, a whopping 9.8. Marshall ranks second to Corchiani in per game assist average over a career, at 7.96, slightly ahead of Hurley’s 7.68.
Numbers from downtown
In the days before the shot clock, some may remember the ACC conducted a rules experiment with a three-point shot, where the arc was just 17 feet nine inches from the basket. Terry Gannon put up a number that is very rare indeed, hitting 58.9 percent of his three-point shots in games that year. When the NCAA decided to permanently put in a clock and a three-point line later in the 80’s, the arc was moved back to 19 feet nine inches. At that distance, Duke’s Christian Laettner holds the ACC record for best three-point shooting over a season, hitting 55.7 percent. Laettner hit a phenomenal 62.5 percent of his threes in ACC games.
The best all-time career three point shooter in the ACC is another guy from not long ago. Jack McClinton of Miami averaged 44 percent from three over this entire career, which ended in 2009.
“Lefty must have hit himself!”
One of Lefty Driesell’s first Maryland teams still holds the record for field goal percentage in a single game. The Terps made 15-of-18 in taking down South Carolina in 1971. A fight broke out in that game, as happened on more than one occasion in games involving Gamecock teams of that era. Driesell found himself in the middle of the fracas, trying to break it up, when a punch from a South Carolina player found his upper torso. Driesell told reporters after the game that he was a struck by a South Carolina player. The response from Gamecock coach Frank McGuire: “I think Lefty must have hit himself!”
GQ and DQ
Frank McGuire, of course, was chosen one of the ten best-dressed men in America during his coaching days in Chapel Hill. Referee Lou Bello used to say he felt the heat of McGuire’s Irish temper when he would run by the bench. But anytime things got rough on the court, McGuire would famously be looking down, straightening his cuffs.
From GQ to DQ, a Duke player holds the ACC record for most disqualifications. Willie Hodge, who played in the mid-70’s in west Durham, fouled out 16 times. By contrast, UNC’s Ed Cota played 138 games and never fouled out.
Biggest foul fest
Carolina fans should know the ACC record for most fouls in a single game. Rick Barnes’ Clemson Tigers committed a whopping 41 fouls at the Dean Smith Center in 1998. And most were not touch fouls. Here’s the most amazing stat: The Tigers only brought ten players to Chapel Hill that night, so they only had 50 fouls to spend, and they used 41 of them! Six Clemson players fouled out. They finished the game with just four players, and one or two of them were in foul trouble. I can’t make this stuff up.
Who knows what kind of Atlantic Coast Conference basketball lore will be written from what happens in the next few weeks.